Monday, 29 September 2008

Shameless plug?

This year's AIB Awards have taken everyone involved by surprise. With more than three times received this year than the number of entries submitted in 2007, it seems that these Awards have truly captured the imagination of broadcasters, online producers and technologists the world over.

The shortlisting process turned into a mammoth task (we'd expected perhaps 30 or 40 more entries than last year), but because we wanted to be scrupulously fair to all entrants, our shortlisting team has watched every TV programme submitted, listened to every radio entry, tested every cross-media production, and thought long and hard about the marketing and technology entries. This work has brought us to a shortlist of around 24% of the total entries, and we've posted this online at

Now it's up to our judges who are spread around the world, from the US to Australia, Ghana to South Africa, Germany to Denmark, and many other places in between. We'll be keeping the results absolutely secret until we present the Awards on 12 November.

So the reason for calling this a shameless plug? Because I want to encourage you to book your seats at the 2008 AIB Awards taking place in London on 12 November. It's going to be a truly great evening, celebrating success in international media and offering many unexpected insights into the way global media is developing. You can book online at - but be quick: when I checked this afternoon, one third of the places had already been reserved!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Nobody's monitoring the output...

Last night I thought I'd catch up with one of the episodes of 'Britain from Above' on the BBC HD channel that I'd missed because I'd been away. I duly tuned in and started to watch.

But something wasn't quite right. The DOG (digital on-screen graphic) with the BBC HD logo wasn't alone. The BBC HD Preview logo was still being radiated, meaning that there was a ghostly shadow and a redundant "Preview" on the top left of the screen.

I picked up the phone and rang Red Bee Media's Duty Engineer (Red Bee Media handles the playout of the BBC's TV channels, and many others in the UK) and let him know about the problem. Within a couple of minutes the errant Preview DOG disappeared.

What's curious to me is that it seems nobody within the BBC is monitoring its years gone by, the Presentation Department at Television Centre made sure that programmes were being transmitted as they should. Today, there seems to be a general abdication of responsibility for output in the multi-channel world and it's up to sharp-eyed viewers to alert broadcasters when things are going wrong.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Spam's being beaten at last

Just about every e-mail address on the AIB domain is extensively spammed. It's grown to such a proportion that we've been testing a number of spam filters to try and solve the ever-growing problem.

After a fairly rigorous set of tests, we settled on Spamfighter, a collaborative programme that makes use of the wisdom of the crowd - the Spamfighter community - to identify and remove spam from users' computers. It's a simple application that you can download and will remove spam from every e-mail account that you have on a PC. If one slips through the net, you simply press "Block" on the e-mail program and the spam item is moved to the Spamfighter folder, and the Spamfighter central database is updated. It seems to work incredibly effectively.

In fact, I took a look at the Spamfighter statistics today. Since we applied the "paid for" version of the program in July, the system has filtered well over 40,000 spam e-mails. Yes, 40,000+. That's the scale of the problem this small but international organisation faces. Horrific.

Then I realised that the spam problem was transferring itself to my newly-acquired Blackberry. I'd resisted getting one of these devices for a long time, thinking that it was simpler to deal with e-mails in the office, but the trouble when you travel quite a bit is there's a constant backlog that slows down your return. So I got a Blackberry before going on holiday in July. Trouble was, using the Blackberry Desktop Redirector every item of mail arriving was automatically forwarded as the Redirector worked instantly, before Spamfighter could kick in.

I searched high and low for a solution and today have found it. Thanks to a post on (dating back to 2004) I found a registry edit that allows you to put in a delay on the Redirector. Despite not liking tampering with the registry, I duly followed the instructions and, hey presto, the Redirector is delayed by 30 seconds giving Spamfighter ample time to work. So, no more spam on the Blackberry. Great.

Here's the registry edit instructions to save you looking:
Step 1. Go to Start > Run and type "regedit" and click OK.
Step 2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software >Research In Motion > BlackBerry > Redirector. Change the value of the ProcessMailDelay entry to 30. If this value fails to address the issue, then modify the value to be 60.
Note: If the ProcessMailDelay value is not present, create it as a DWORD Value and set the Value data to Decimal 30.
Step 3. close the Redirector and Desktop Manager applications, then restart both to force these changes to take effect.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Germany's media debate same as everywhere

I'm in Berlin for the annual Medienwoche debates and to discover what's new in consumer electronics.

The first day of the Medienwoche conference demonstrated that the conflicts between public and private media rumble on, with private media companies complaining loudly that publicly-funded broadcasters are moving into new territories for which they don't have a mandate, pushing private enterprise to the sidelines.

Today (Tuesday) Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, is talking about the role of public service broadcasting.

Meanwhile, across the road at IFA, the European consumer electronics fair, it's very quiet - the quietest I've ever seen it since I first came to the show in the 1980s. My initial impressions are that there's a lack of anything new and exciting - but if you want to see hall after hall of plasma and LCD HD-ready TV sets, then IFA is definitely the place to come. And there are washing machines, too...